Left autonomous "Köpi Square": Eviction of Wagencamp in Berlin escalated

For years it has been a center for the left-wing autonomous movement in the heart of Berlin: the car camp “Köpi-Platz”. Then the owner obtains the eviction. But the residents cannot be led away without resistance.

It was one of the last symbolic projects of the left-wing autonomous scene in Berlin: Hundreds of police officers cleared the “Köpi-Platz” car camp in Berlin-Mitte on Friday. In protest against it, several thousand people took to the streets that evening. The mood was very aggressive, said a police spokeswoman. There have been attacks on police officers and some colleagues have been injured. In some cases, vehicles were also damaged. There are many more participants than registered, the number is in the upper four-digit range. Several hundred people took to the streets at a solidarity demonstration in Hamburg that evening.

The residents of the trailer next to an old building occupied in 1990 had announced resistance and barricaded themselves behind a high fence that morning. On the street and on Twitter, supporters defiantly repeated “Köpi remains”. With armored evacuation vehicles, however, the officers made it onto the site and finally led the around 40 residents out one after the other.

Strictly speaking, the deployment of up to 2,000 police officers only served to gain access to a bailiff who, in turn, implemented a court order to evict the property in the interests of the property owner. He had already sued the Berlin Regional Court in June and got the right. An objection by the residents before the higher court failed. The police emphasized that they had only acted in the course of administrative assistance.

“On the verge of a nervous breakdown”

The residents had declared that they would not give up “without a fight” on “Day X”. They presented the car camp as an autonomous space threatened by greed for profit and as a home for dozens of people. Her lawyer Moritz Heusinger said the residents were “on the verge of a nervous breakdown” and feared for their livelihoods. How far the resistance would go was difficult to estimate. Shortly before the evacuation, a woman from inside the premises shouted an angry “Fuck off!” opposite. Some people climbed trees on the premises to stop the police operation.

For their part, the police had been preparing the operation for days and cordoned off the area on Thursday. In addition to Berlin officials, 700 emergency services from other federal states and the federal police were called in. When more and more counter-demonstrators flocked to three registered rallies shortly before the eviction on Friday morning, there were violent scuffles with police officers. “Köpi” supporters denounced the actions of the officials on Twitter. The police reported 21 arrests in a preliminary balance sheet.

From the perspective of the left in the Berlin House of Representatives, the escalation could have been avoided. The left-wing faction announced that the owner had offered the property for sale through brokers and was ready in negotiations to sell it to the state’s own housing association. The purchase price, purchase contract and notary date had already been fixed. “Then the owner broke negotiations.” So “the real estate company apparently wants to increase the value of its speculative property by evacuating it,” speculated the left-wing faction. In court, however, the owner had referred to his building intentions. On Friday afternoon it looked as if he had first asserted his interests. However, according to what was posted on Twitter, the left-wing autonomous scene was still in turmoil.

Demonstrations in Hamburg too

In the past few nights, cars had been damaged or set on fire and windows thrown in Berlin time and again. In Hamburg, too, the solidarity demo drummed under the motto “Defendköpi”. According to the police, around 500 demonstrators from the left-wing autonomous scene took to the streets there; accompanied by Bengalo fires and cracking firecrackers. From the left-wing autonomous center “Rote Flora” there were loudspeaker announcements like: “Today we have seen the fascist face of the state and capitalism.”

The building in Berlin next to Wagenplatz, which was occupied in 1990 – the rear building of an old building without a front building – was not affected by the eviction, by the way. In addition to apartments on the upper floors, there is a concert room, a climbing wall, a small sports hall and a cinema in the basement and the lower floors.